Purpose The contralateral unaffected breast (CUB) of women with unilateral breast cancer provides a model for the study of breast tissue-based risk factors. Using random fine needle aspiration (rFNA), we have investigated hormonal and gene expression patterns related to atypia in the CUBs of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. Methods 83 women underwent rFNA of the CUB. Cytologic analysis was performed using the Masood Score (MS), atypia was defined as MS > 14. RNA was extracted using 80% of the sample. The expression of 20 hormone related genes was quantified using Taqman Low Density Arrays. Statistical analysis was performed using 2-tailed t tests and linear regression. Results Cytological atypia was more frequent in multiparous women (P = 0.0392), and was not associated with any tumor-related features in the affected breast. Masood Score was higher with shorter interval since last pregnancy (R = 0.204, P = 0.0417), higher number of births (R = 0.369, P = 0.0006), and estrogen receptor (ER) negativity of the index cancer (R = −0.203, P = 0.065). Individual cytologic features were associated with aspects of parity. Specifically, anisonucleosis was correlated with shorter interval since last pregnancy (R = 0.318, P = 0.0201), higher number of births (R = 0.382, P = 0.0004), and ER status (R = −0.314, P = 0.0038). Eight estrogen-regulated genes were increased in atypical samples (P < 0.005), including TFF1, AGT, PDZK1, PGR, GREB1, PRLR, CAMK2B, and CCND1. Conclusions Cytologic atypia, and particularly anisonucleosis, is associated with recent and multiple births and ER negative status of the index tumor. Atypical samples showed increased expression of estrogen-related genes, consistent with the role of estrogen exposure in breast cancer development.
- Breast cancer risk
- Contralateral unaffected breast
- Cytologic atypia
- Gene expression
- Random fine needle aspiration
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